A rare Russian porcelain ice cup and cover from the porcelain service for the cavaliers of the Order of St. Vladimir, Gardner Factory, 1783-1785. The cup’s form is based on those of the Berlin Service (given to Catherine II by Frederick the Great in 1772), the bowl painted with the red and black moiré sash of the order centering the Order’s star, the handle molded and painted in imitation of a branch with leafy terminal, the slip-on, domed cover similarly decorated with the order’s red and black moiré silk ribbon centering a gilt blossom, the underside of the cup with dark grey factory mark. Height 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm).
In 1782, five years after Empress Catherine II’s Cabinet had ordered the first three of the famed Order Services, the Empress founded the Order of St. Vladimir, in part to mark the twentieth anniversary of her accession to the throne. Credited with having brought Christianity to Russia, Prince Vladimir was canonized by the Orthodox Church and was called “equal to the apostles.” In Russian, this is rendered as Sviatoi Ravnoapostolnyi Kniaz Vladimir and thus the Cyrillic letters SRKV (СРКВ) appear on the star depicted on the service. The Service for the Order of St. Vladimir was first used at the Winter Palace at the ceremony held on the saint’s feast day, September 22, 1785. When the new Order was established, the Empress also named the first eleven members: Field Marshall General Alexander Golitsyn, Prince Grigory Orlov, Count Zakharii Chernyshev, Count Ivan Chernyshev, Count Nikita Panin, Prince Grigory Potemkin, Prince Nikolai Repnin, Ivan Betskoi (Catherine’s private secretary and President of the Imperial Academy of Arts), Ivan Shuvalov (her favorite and member of the Russian Academy), Prince Alexander Bezborodko, and Count Petr Rumiantsev-Zadunaiskii. Prince Golitsyn died in 1783 and was never able to eat the exclusive dessert from a rare porcelain cup like this one.
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